Monday, April 09, 2012


Cardinal Timothy Dolan (R-Vatican) was on Face the Nation yesterday and spoke on many subjects, including this:

He ... pledged to fight the administration's contraceptive mandate for health care coverage, even though the White House modified it so that religious-affiliated hospitals, universities and charities would not have to directly offer or pay for contraception.

"We didn't ask for the fight, but we're not going to back away from it," Mr. Dolan said, adding it put the church "in a very tough spot."

"We didn't ask for the fight"? Strictly speaking, I suppose this is true -- the bishops didn't ask for this particular fight. But what Cardinal Dolan says here is deceiving, because, as The New York Times reported recently, the bishops were looking for some sort of fight:

Bishops Were Prepared for Battle Over Birth Control Coverage

When after much internal debate the Obama administration finally announced its decision to require religiously affiliated hospitals and universities to cover birth control in their insurance plans, the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops were fully prepared for battle.

Seven months earlier, they had started laying the groundwork for a major new campaign to combat what they saw as the growing threat to religious liberty, including the legalization of same-sex marriage. But the birth control mandate, issued on Jan. 20, was their Pearl Harbor.

Hours after President Obama phoned to share his decision with Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York, who is president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the bishops' headquarters in Washington posted on its Web site a video of Archbishop Dolan, which had been recorded the day before....

As Sarah Posner of Religion Dispatches has reported, the bishops were on a war footing as far back as last summer:

The Bishops' opposition to the Department of Health and Human Services rule -- which they describe as mandating "preventive services" (scare quotes in original) -- was to date the most public salvo from their Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty. That effort was launched last June because, in USCCB president Timothy Dolan's ominous words, "never before have we faced this kind of challenge to our ability to engage in the public square as people of faith and as a service provider. If we do not act now, the consequence will be grave." At the Bishops' annual meeting in Baltimore this past November, Dolan took his charges into conspiratorial territory, telling reporters that "well-financed, well-oiled sectors” were attempting to “push religion back into the sacristy."

So please, Cardinal Dolan, don't pretend that you were just sitting around innocently writing sermons when that mean old President Obama blindsided you. This effort predates that.

And stop acting as if you're being forced into silence. You're not losing because you're being repressed -- you're losing because Americans increasingly disagree on gay marriage, have mostly not shared your absolutist view of abortion, and have long disagreed with you on contraception -- and that very much includes your own parishioners. We hear you. We just don't agree with you. Deal with it.

(X-posted at Booman Tribune.)


BH said...

The delusion of Papal infallibility - surely one of the most pernicious, not to say arguably blasphemous, pieces of dogma ever promulgated - has inevitably trickled down to the lesser levels of the hierarchy, with predictable results (i.e., generations of Bishop Dolans whose pronunciamentoes are routinely ignored by their flocks). The flocks show much better sense than the media & the pols.

BH said...

Correction: make that Cardinal Dolan. Not that it makes a damn to me, but...

Steve M. said...

I'm afraid he's going to be Pope Dolan soon (or Pope Whatever-the-Hell-He-Decides-to-Call-Himself).